Qantas CEO Says Passengers Need Vaccination To Board Plane

Generally, airline executives tend to be elusive and coy in their response until a carrier has made a final decision about the direction they are heading (unless you’re the CEO of Qatar Airways). But are we headed towards are new frontier?

VACCINES REQUIRED TO FLY

Yesterday, Australian TV show “A Current Affair” posted a 30-second clip from an interview with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce that quickly began trending.

The interviewer asks:

Alan, when there is a vaccine, are you going to require all of your passengers to be vaccinated before they get on the plane?

Joyce responds:

Yeah, we are looking at changing our terms & conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft. Whether you need that domestically, we’ll have to see what happens with COVID-19 and the market, but certainly for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.

AUSTRALIA BORDERS AND COVID

For context, Australia has been one of the most aggressive countries in the world when it comes to restricting international travel.

The borders to Australia have been closed to intentional travel for months. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Australia has also closed the six states and territories and according to the latest data, it appears to be working…

Recognizing the structure that Australia has put in place, Qantas has had no choice but to shut down their international network. However, I do find it surprising that Australia has not followed other countries and required extensive testing or quarantine. What impact has this had (or will this have on the future) on Qantas Airlines?

WILL OTHER AIRLINES FOLLOW SUIT?

It goes without saying that airlines tend to follow each other when decisions are made publicly (well, at least in the US) but this presents some complications. For example:

  • Qantas will require a vaccine to fly on their planes, but does that mean Australia is requiring proof of a vaccine? If not, can you simply fly another airline to Australia?
  • In my experience, countries require vaccines, not private industry. Is this legal?
  • There are several different vaccines that will distributed. Do they all meet the requirement to fly?
  • What happens if your country does not have access to a vaccine?
  • Along those lines, what are the implications for Gulf carriers that serve countries where the vaccine may not be available for months or years?

FINAL STAMP

Qantas CEO suggests that passengers will be required to have proof of a vaccine to board their flights.

There are several challenges to this announcement, none of which are easy. But will this be a decision that is the industry standard?

Although it’s on my list of things to do, I have not had the opportunity to fly on Qantas (or visit Australia for that matter). There is one specific flight that I’ve had my eye on for a long time. Qantas had planned to launch a nonstop 787 flight from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Brisbane (BNE) on 15 April 2020, but had to postpone it given the global pandemic. Would you be the first to book this flight if a vaccine is required?

What do you think about this development?

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